Lady Dragons top Hanover Central

ARGOS — The announcers kept the cheering home crowd posted on the boys game, fans called out text updates to one another, and the energy at Eugene Snyder Field was palpable.
The Argos girls soccer team followed up the Dragons’ Caston Regional championship with a victory over visiting Hanover Central, and the fire trucks were called back for another victory lap as little Argos claimed a soccer regional sweep Saturday with the girls title at its home regional Saturday.
The small soccer school with an enrollment of just 336 handed ISCA Class A No. 20 Hanover Central a 3-0 defeat in the girls championship, and the No. 14 Lady Dragons broke an 11-year drought with just their second ever regional title.
“This is where it started, 1963: First public school in Indiana,” said Argos Head Girls Soccer Coach Jon Alcorn. “It was Argos versus CMA. That’s the year I was born. It started here, and of course I had to learn all the stories when I moved to Argos.
“It may be Class A, but we’re still proud. We’re the smallest Class A school left. I don’t know many other schools smaller than us that were even in the tournament. But that’s part of the culture here. If you look over here, you’ve got a soccer field there, you’ve got a soccer field there, a soccer field there — soccer fields everywhere. Thursday we had the whole school come to the gym, and you’ve got little kindergartners and everybody else cheering. That’s the kind of stuff you have at a small school. The fire trucks are coming again, so we’re going through town to wake everybody up.”
“Soccer is Argos,” said junior forward Jami Patterson. “It’s what we do. We start from kindergarten. It’s everything. It’s what we do.”
The Lady Dragons broke through early as Patterson found Stefany Parrish on a tight cross inside the box, and Parrish finished off the goal to give the home team a 1-0 advantage in the seventh minute. Patterson notched a goal of her own on another combination play in the 33rd minute, this time a Samantha Hopkins pass, and her gentle pass into the back of the net gave Argos a 2-0 advantage at the break.
“I feel like it was the easiest goal I’ve ever scored,” said Patterson. “It just didn’t feel right tapping it in, but it was amazing.”
Argos had struggled somewhat against a disciplined Hanover Central offsides trap in the first half, but the Dragons were able to counter it in the second half, and Raelynn LaFrance scored on a Kaitlyn Williams through ball in the 54th minute to give Argos a three-goal cushion.
“They played a really high offsides trap,” said Alcorn. “We didn’t really get a lot of goals off of it. We had to go to the corner. We talked to the kids about playing smarter, playing the angles, ball on the ground, and the one time it bit them was Raelynn’s insurance goal in the second half.
“We switched Raelynn — she’s a high-energy player — just to adapt to that offsides trap. Kaiti knocked it through with the patience, Raelynn timed the run, and then she just put it over the keeper.”
Argos was able to make those three goals stand up and then some with some heroics from junior goalkeeper Karlee VanDerWeele, who notched an impressive nine saves and made several other heads-up plays to preserve the regional championship shutout.
“I do think we had quite a few close calls. I think the second half, Hanover Central started making some better passes,” said Alcorn. “I think Karlee VanDerWeele did a really great job of just picking up a lot of stuff, keeping it from being dangerous.”
Hanover Central closes at 15-2 with just its second defeat of the season, while the surging Dragons moved to 14-6 and will play Mishawaka Marian (16-2-1) on their home turf in the second Argos Semistate game at noon Saturday. Fort Wayne Concordia (14-5-1) plays West Lafayette (14-5-2) in the first semifinal beginning at 10 a.m., with the winners moving on to the championship at 7 p.m. at Eugene Snyder Field.
“Marian is just a quality team,” Alcorn said. “They’re a level ahead of most of the smaller schools in this area. We didn’t play really well against them when we played them; we lost 3-1. It was a learning game for us, so I think we learned quite a bit of stuff. We’ll just be ready to play.”
At Argos Regional
First half
Stefany Parrish (Jami Patterson), 7th minute
Patterson (Samantha Hopkins), 33rd minute
Second half
Raelynn LaFrance (Kaitlyn Williams), 54th minute
Shots on goal: Argos 7, Hanover Central 9
Saves: Karlee VanDerWeele (Argos) 9, B.K. Sakelaris (Hanover) 4
Corners: Argos 1, Hanover Central 6
Fouls: Argos 7, Hanover Central 5
Records: Argos 14-6, Hanover Central 15-2 (final)